Budget Watch - Florida is Facing Large Budget Shortfalls

/ Categories: Research, Budget/Approps

The severe economic contraction brought on by COVID-19 has reduced state revenues significantly. The pandemic is also increasing government costs such as virus response/recovery and assistance to those harmed economically by the public health emergency. This spells trouble for the current and future state budgets.

General Revenue Estimates for the Current Budget Year Reduced by $3.4 Billion

/ Categories: Research, Budget/Approps

After 128 months of economic expansion through February 2020, the global coronavirus pandemic brought on the largest post-war contraction in U.S. history. With the resulting closure or slowdown of businesses, record unemployment, and a loss of tourism, Florida’s economy is suffering. The impact on government revenue has been and will continue to be profound. The General Revenue Estimating Conference met on August 14 and reduced the revenue projections by $3.420 billion in the current budget year and $1.994 billion in FY2021-22. This follows news that actual collections in FY2019-20 fell $1.9 billion short of the estimate. 

Budget Watch - COVID-19 Impact

/ Categories: Research, Taxes, Budget/Approps

As Florida continues its battle with the COVID-19 pandemic, the state has released General Revenue (GR) collections data for June (the last month of the FY19-20 fiscal year).1 Collections came in $427.8 million (13.4 percent) below estimate, following losses of $878.1 million (29.4 percent) in April and $779.6 million (26.4) percent in May. Because collections were running a bit above estimate before the pandemic hit, the $2.1 billion loss in the last quarter puts Florida down $1.9 billion (5.7 percent) for the year. 

2020 Taxpayers Guide to the FY2020-21 Florida State Budget

/ Categories: Research, Budget/Approps, Taxpayer Guide

After deducting the Governor’s vetoes, the net result is FY2020-21 appropriations totaling $92.270 billion, still a $1.3 billion increase over the previous year. As is usually the case, it is the largest state budget in history. In addition to many facts and figures explaining this year’s budget, past data are also provided to put it in historical context. We hope this annual budget pocket guide gives you the information you need to better understand where and how your hard-earned tax dollars are being spent.

Budget Watch - General Revenue $1.455 Billion Below Estimate

/ Categories: Research, Budget/Approps

General Revenue (GR) collections for the month of May came in $779.6 million (26.4 percent) below estimate. This news comes from the new Monthly Revenue Report, just released by the Office of Economic and Demographic Research.1 It is somewhat surprising that the amount by which May GR collections fell short of the previous estimates is less than that of April ($878.1 million). May collections largely reflect sales activity in April, a month that was almost entirely under the statewide ‘Safer at Home’ order.

Bringing Florida's Budget Back From COVID-19

A Roadmap for a Responsible Recovery

/ Categories: Research, Budget/Approps, Cost Savings

As the nation recovers from one of the worst economic recessions in history, Florida continues to battle unprecedented fiscal challenges and budget shortfalls that have made business-as-usual in state government unsustainable. In response to this crisis, this report presents immediately actionable ideas in the event that a significant budget deficit occurs in FY2020-21.

2020 Budget Turkey Watch Report

An analysis of the transparency and accountability of the budget process

/ Categories: Research, Budget Turkeys, Budget/Approps

The report promotes additional oversight and integrity in the state’s budgeting process based on the principle that: because money appropriated by the Legislature belongs to the taxpayers of Florida, the process must be transparent and accountable, and every appropriation should receive deliberation and public debate. The budget review identifies appropriations that circumvent transparency and accountability standards in public budgeting. 

Budget Watch - April's General Revenue Collections Come in $878 Million Below Estimate for the Month

/ Categories: Research, Budget/Approps

Net General Revenue (GR) collections for the month of April came in $878.1 million (29.4 percent) below estimate. This news comes from a new Monthly Revenue Report just released by the Office of Economic and Demographic Research.1 This is the first month of data to show a significant decrease in revenues due to the impact of COVID-19 on the state’s economy. April GR collections generally reflect March sales tax activity, so the decline in May collections (reflecting April sales) will be much larger.

2020 Florida Legislative Session Wrap-Up

/ Categories: Research, E-Fairness, Budget/Approps

The bills passed by the 2020 Legislature included many recommended or supported by Florida TaxWatch research. The following Legislative Wrap-Up discusses all these bills and more. It shows what passed and what did not—both issues supported by Florida TaxWatch research and other important bills we monitored all session long to keep our members and the public informed on our Legislative Update webpage.

What’s In and What’s Out of the Final 2020 Tax Package

/ Categories: Research, E-Fairness, Budget/Approps, Taxpayer Guide

The 2020 tax package (HB 7097) was amended many times as it moved through the process. At first, it grew topping $230 million in tax savings at one point. Then, citing a need to keep more money in reserves for COVID-19 response, it started getting smaller. The following is a description of all the provisions that were in the many versions of HB 7097. This report starts with what’s in the final and follows with what dropped out along the way.

 

Budget Watch - House and Senate Budgets for FY2020-21

/ Categories: Research, Budget/Approps

With a little over two weeks remaining in the 2020 Legislative Session, there is still much to be decided about how more than $90 billion in taxpayer money will be spent next year. The General Appropriations Act is the only bill the Legislature is constitutionally required to pass. Budget conference negotiations will formally begin soon, likely next week. Since lawmakers are constitutionally required to wait 72 hours before a final vote, a mutually agreed-upon budget must be produced by Tuesday, March 10 in order for an on-time finish of the session on Friday, March 13. As we prepare to head into conference, this analysis looks at what is in the two budgets and what the major differences are.

Budget Watch - Small Surplus Estimated for the Next State Budget

/ Categories: Research, Budget/Approps

It appears the 2020 Florida Legislature will have a little money left over after funding a continuation budget for the next fiscal year, but lawmakers need to be careful about spending it. State economists estimate that there will be a General Revenue (GR) budget surplus of $289.3 after funding the base budget plus “critical needs” and “high priority needs”—a conservative continuation budget.

Budget Watch–General Revenue Estimates Reduced Slightly

 Loss of Indian Gaming Revenue Puts a Dent in General Revenue; State to Refund $542 Million in Excess Corporate Income Taxes

/ Categories: Research, Budget/Approps

The General Revenue (GR) Estimating Conference met on August 14 to develop a new revenue forecast for Florida. It was a challenging and complex conference for the state’s economists.  The uncertainty surrounding corporate income tax collections, the loss of Indian gaming revenue, a weaker economic forecast, and the impact of Hurricane Michael were some of the factors they were dealing with.

2019 Budget Turkey Watch Report

An analysis of the transparency and accountability of the budget process

/ Categories: Research, Budget Turkeys, Budget/Approps

The 2019 Budget Turkey Watch Report: An Analysis of the Transparency and Accountability of the Budget Process is the result of an annual independent review of Florida’s new budget by Florida TaxWatch. The report started in 1983, and having been published annually since 1986, promotes additional oversight and integrity in the state’s budgeting process based on the principle that: because money appropriated by the Legislature belongs to the taxpayers of Florida, the process must be transparent and accountable, and every appropriation should receive deliberation and public debate. The budget review identifies appropriations that circumvent transparency and accountability standards in public budgeting. 

2019 Florida Legislative Session Wrap-Up

/ Categories: Research, E-Fairness, Budget/Approps

The 2019 Florida Legislative Session is over. Lawmakers approved 197 bills this year, setting a record for the fewest bills passed (at least since 2001, and likely long before that). The amount of bills passed has been steadily declining. This is probably a good thing, but it also reflects the use of “trains,” strike-all amendments, and adding brand new issues to bills at the last minute, things that certainly occurred this year. Still, there was some good legislation that passed and, as always, some missed opportunities and some great ideas that became less so as the process wore on.

Session Spotlight: 2019 Tax Package

/ Categories: Research, Taxes, Budget/Approps

On Thursday, May 2, the Senate took up the tax package passed by the House (HB 7123) and adopted a strike-all amendment that put the Senate package on the bill. It kept many of the provisions (with some changes), added some new provisions, and removed one controversial provision, and changed another.

The Legislature Must Stop Diverting Affordable Housing Funding

/ Categories: Research, Budget/Approps

There is an affordable housing crisis in Florida. It is truly a nationwide problem, but it is especially acute in the Sunshine State. The availability of affordable housing for lower-income families in Florida is lower than almost all other states, and most of those at the lower end of the income scale that do have places to live are overburdened with housing costs they cannot afford.

Budget Watch - Analysis Of The House & Senate Budgets For FY2019-20

DIFFERENCES IN EDUCATION, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, AFFORDABLE HOUSING AND MORE MUST BE WORKED OUT

/ Categories: Research, Budget/Approps

At the halfway mark of the 2019 Legislative Session, the House and Senate approved their proposed state budgets for FY2019-20. Both spending plans exceed current spending—the Senate by more than $1.0 billion and the House by $588.4 million. The House increases current General Revenue (GR) spending by $609.5 million (1.9 percent), while the Senate increases GR by $841.2 million (2.6 percent).

Budget Watch - New GR Estimates Reduced Slightly

HURRICANE MICHAEL BUDGET AMENDMENTS NOW TOTAL $443 MILLION; MORE THAN $200 MILLION IN CORPORATE INCOME TAXES COULD BE REFUNDED

/ Categories: Research, Budget/Approps

The eagerly awaited final General Revenue (GR) estimates to be used for the next state budget are out. Legislators and appropriations lobbyists were hoping for an infusion of cash to ease a tight budget year, made even tighter by hurricane-related costs and the competing costly priorities of the Governor and legislative leaders. Well, that did not happen. The estimates did not change much, decreasing by a total of $7.4 million.

Budget Watch - General Revenue Estimates Inject $842 Million Into The Next Budget Process

/ Categories: Research, Budget/Approps

Less than a week after the Senate Appropriations Committee heard a gloomy presentation on the outlook for the upcoming budget, the General Revenue Estimating Conference met on December 18 and increased the revenue projections by $461.5 million in FY2018-19 and another $380.5 million in FY2019-20. This means the 2019 Legislature will have an estimated $842 million more in General Revenue (GR) collections for the next state budget than was previously expected.

Budget Watch - Outlook Assumes Legislature Will Sweep Trust Funds

/ Categories: Research, Budget/Approps

Florida’s state forecasters estimate that the 2019 Legislature will have a $223.4 million budget surplus when it puts together the state’s new spending plan for FY 2019-20. However, this assumes the Legislature will transfer nearly $400 million from trust funds—money earmarked by law for specific uses—into the General Revenue (GR) Fund.

Budget Watch - GR Estimates Down $32.6 Million

/ Categories: Research, Budget/Approps

Florida’s General Revenue (GR) Estimating Conference met on August 16 and forecast that the state would collect $13.1 million less than expected in FY2018-19 and $19.5 million less in FY2019-20. This reduces the estimated GR that the Legislature will have for the next state budget by $32.6 million, a change of less than one-tenth of 1 percent.

Budget Watch - Actual GR Collections in 2017-18 Exceed Estimates

/ Categories: Research, Budget/Approps

Actual net GR collections for the fiscal year that that just ended exceeded the last estimate (February 2018, adjusted for legislative changes) by $205.2 million (0.66 percent). This will be added to the unobligated FY2018-19 GR (cash reserve) balance of $1.026 billion to be carried forward to the next budget year (FY2019-20). These numbers, along with the current cycle of the state’s Estimating Conferences, can begin to define the fiscal outlook for the next state budget that will be developed by the 2019 Legislature.

Budget Watch - The Whole Story of State Spending

/ Categories: Research, Budget/Approps
The 2018 Legislature passed a $88.727 billion state budget—the General Appropriations Act (GAA)—which recently took effect on July 1. But that doesn’t tell the whole story of what was spent by lawmakers last session. While the GAA price tag gets all the publicity, other appropriations can go largely unnoticed.
1234567